By Beth Anderson, MindBodyGreen
Did you know that cold cereals were invented in the late 1800s based on religious beliefs in vegetarianism and suppressing sexual urges? Since then, these unhealthy additions to our standard American breakfast have continued to thrive because of advertising campaigns targeting children and their claims of healthy ingredients.
Today’s cereals are usually made from corn, wheat, rice, or oats. Ninety percent of American households now eat them for breakfast. Unless the cereal is certified organic, you can and should assume that the grain is a genetically modified organism. That should be enough to stop us from consuming it, but for some reason it isn’t. Besides the grain, cereals usually contain sweeteners, flavoring agents, coloring agents, preservatives, and synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Does this still sound appetizing to you, or does it sound more like a bowl of “chemical stew”?
Grain is cleaned and crushed at the factory, then pressure-cooked along with any chemical flavorings, sweeteners, vitamins, and minerals that may be added to it. The grain is dried on a conveyor belt system. The result is a glob of mush which can be shaped. Sometimes flour is used instead of grain, and the cereal is cooked in an extruder which ejects it after cooking.
Flaked cereals are flattened under pressure and toasted quickly. Some rice cereals are flattened and then baked quickly to cause them to swell. Shredded cereals grains are usually wheat—they’re cooked, cooled, and rolled between one flat and one grooved roller, therefore shredding the doughy mixture into long threads as it passes through.
Specially shaped cereals are made from dough extruded into the shape desired and cut to size, much like that dough factory you played with as a kid!
After baking, the cereal is coated with vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, flavors, colors, and preservatives. Some cereals are even frosted with more!
You may think that you’re helping your children by providing a “fortified” cereal. But stop to think: The reason they fortify products with synthetic vitamins is because they’ve removed most of the vitamins and nutrients from the whole, natural food to start with. The manufacturers may fortify with a few vitamins, but it’s a small percentage of the number and amount of vitamins they have removed! The fortifications are all synthetic too.
What kind of breakfast cereal do you eat? You might want to read your label carefully and try switching to homemade whole oats and fresh fruit!